Although the IB PYP provides a curriculum framework based on six transdisciplinary themes, it is an expectation of the IB PYP that individual subject standards and benchmarks are reflected in the GAIS curriculum, either within the transdisciplinary framework or as standalone units of study.
Core subjects are taught by the homeroom teacher. English, Music, Physical Education and Information Technology are taught by single subject teachers.
Math is taught in German and the GAIS curriculum combines relevant standards from the PYP, State of California, and German-speaking countries.
German is the language of instruction from Vorschule through Grade 4. Vorschule is an immersion program where students can join without previous German experience. From Grade 1, German support is offered to children from non-German speaking homes but some level of German is necessary to access the curriculum. The German curriculum reflects the PYP’s language standards as well as curriculum standards from German-speaking countries, ensuring a smooth transition from or to German-speaking schools in Europe.
English is also taught on a daily basis to all students from Grades 1-4, with extra assistance offered to students who are beginning English language learners. GAIS emphasizes reading, writing and oral communication skills in both German and English.
Units of Inquiry
All students study the classic core subjects such as Math, German, English, Art, PE and IT. In the PYP it is necessary to balance the program of inquiry and any core subject.
Consequently the homeroom teachers plan the units of inquiry together with all core subject teachers. Whenever possible the core subjects are integrated into the unit of study for content and concept.
Example fourth grade:
The students inquired about how lifestyle has evolved over time. The concepts they were exploring were causation (why it is the way it is) and connection (how it is connected to other things). One of their investigations involved changes in school life over the years.
Their German writing piece was a fantasy story about school 100 years ago (content). They also looked at the language arts topic of word roots connecting the conceptual understanding with the question: From where do words originate? In Math they worked on diagrams using examples from the development of traffic.
It is a real life, inquiry-based on the causation question: Why was the data displayed in this form? When teaching large numbers the teacher used the example of growing population, before strengthening the skill in a math book. As an art connection the children worked on collage material and created collages of themselves in clothes that children would have been worn 100 years ago.
Communication & Presentation Skills
Through the Arts as well the PYP curriculum as a whole and the summative assessments in particular, many opportunities are provided for students to present their work in written, oral or visual form helping them develop excellent presentation and communication skills.
Personal & Social Education
The Elementary School takes an integrated approach to teaching about health and safety, personal identity and interaction. The curriculum fosters students’ thinking about their place in the world, their impact and responsibilities as individuals and their development as respectful, responsible, global citizens.
The curriculum makes explicit connections to the Leaner Profile, mentioned above, and fosters the development of PYP Attitudes. These are: appreciation, commitment, confidence, cooperation, creativity, curiosity, empathy, enthusiasm, independence, integrity, respect, and tolerance.
Starting in the Grade 2, students attend information technology lessons once a week. They are taught basic skills and how to use technology safely for research and presentations. Homeroom classes have extra computers for independent work.
Students from Vorschule-Grade 2 have two 45-minute PE lessons a week and students in Grades 3 and 4 have one double-lesson of 90 minutes a week. The primary goals are to encourage lively participation in sports and an understanding of the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. The curriculum focuses on developing technique, motor skills, fitness and social skills, especially through teamwork.
GAIS hosts an annual SportFest competition at a local track for all Elementary and Middle School students.
GAIS Elementary School students are members of many local teams, including soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming, volleyball, ice-hockey, fencing, track and field and dancing; the school can make referrals as appropriate.
Visual art is taught by the homeroom teacher. Skills and techniques are incorporated into assignments and activities associated with the unit of inquiry.
Performing Arts (Music)
Music in the Elementary School provides the opportunity for our students to communicate in many creative ways beyond language. Through a variety of activities, they discover music as a social activity, both active and reflective.
In music class, students analyze sounds, compose, explore instruments and body music,omm harmonize, listen, sing, write, record, play Orff instruments, the recorder or the Ukulele, dance and create plays and musical theater presentations.
Every music unit focuses on a Central Idea from the IB curriculum, as well as the study of the elements of elementary general music: rhythm, melody, tempo, dynamic, expression and timbre. The process of learning music skills allows for creative expression and appreciation in a wide variety of styles two lessons per week.